With rain in our forecast for the next four days (we may not see the sun again until Friday), it’s time for some periodic reminders about how to prepare for wet weather.
One of the best sources for this information is the Los Angeles Fire Department, which notes that the number one rainy-day safety precaution is to stay out of flood channels. “…flood control channels, arroyos and other low-lying areas can quickly fill with fast-moving water,” says the LAFD website, “creating a life threatening danger to anyone who gets caught or swept away.” Also, “It is against the law to be inside a flood control channel.” (We know this sounds like common sense, but there has already been one flood channel rescue during this storm, according to KABC-TV.)
To further help prepare your home and family for unusually wet weather, LAFD offers these tips (with LOTS of helpful links!):
FLOOD PREVENTION AND STORM PREPAREDNESS TIPS
- Ensure that your drains, gutters and downspouts are clean and functioning properly. This is especially important for flat-roofed buildings.
- Keep stormwater troughs, pipes and culverts on your property free of debris.
- Move valuable or easily damaged items away from low-lying areas prone to flooding.
- Secure trash containers, household waste, chemical spills and outdoor storage before they are swept away, spread contamination or block storm drains.
- Closely examine windows, skylights and doors that may benefit from caulking or weatherstripping.
- Inspect your attic for “leaks” of sunlight, or signs of previous water damage that may indicate where pre-storm repairs are needed.
- Establish household supplies (bucket, mop, towel and tarpaulin) to minimize damage from a sudden leak or stormwater seepage.
- Prepare your household to remain safe (battery powered lamps, no candles) and functional (fully charged cell phone, manual garage door operation) in the event of a storm related power outage.
- Review how to safely turn off your home’s electric, water and natural gas service in the event of severe storm damage, remembering that water and electricity don’t mix.
- Put the Flood Safety and other free Mobile Apps from the American Red Cross on your smartphone.
- Discuss your Family Emergency Plan and prepare an Emergency Supply Kit that includes food, water, medications, flashlight, battery-powered radio, rain gear and first aid supplies.
- Gather and safely store important documents to take with you in case of evacuation.
- Confirm out-of-state family contacts so that friends and relatives can determine your location and status.
- Consider the safety of those with disabilities or access and functional needs.
- Plan for the needs of pets at home and if you are evacuated.
- Identify multiple safe routes from your home or workplace to high ground.
- Have sturdy, sensible shoes with nonskid soles for use in a rainstorm. Pack an umbrella, small flashlight and rain coat.
- Check your car’s wipers, lights, tire inflation and tread wear to assure safe operation, and keep your vehicle fueled in case power is cutoff to local fueling stations.
- Monitor local news for the status of streets, highways and transit systems.
- Be aware of local driving laws, and how to operate your vehicle safely or use public transit in conditions altered by weather.
- Lower the level of your swimming pool to prevent overflow and flooding.
- Determine if your home is located in a flood hazard or landslide prone area.
- Landscape slopes with plants that are fire retardant, water wise, suitable for erosion control and allow for smart water retention or reuse. Consider the temporary use of plastic sheeting on slopes prone to erosion.
- Large trees that could threaten your home should be examined by a certified arborist. Confirm that any hillside on your property has been evaluated by a licensed soil engineer.
- If necessary, consult an engineer or licensed contractor to design or build permanent water and debris control systems for your property.
- Contact your insurance agent to assure that your flood and storm coverage is adequate and in effect. Confirm the 24-hour contact, policy and claim filing numbers for your insurer(s). Place that information in your mobile phone and keep a printed copy in the glove box of your car.
- Keep sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber, hand tools and other materials handy for addressing additional stormwater issues.
PERSONAL SAFETY DURING A STORM OR FLOOD
- When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!
- Limit non-essential travel, and avoid the urge to sightsee. Remind all household members not to play or linger near catch basins, canyons, flood control channels or storm drains.
- Do not walk through flowing water. Drowning is the leading cause of flood deaths, mostly during flash floods. Currents can be deceptive; six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet.
- Never drive through a flooded area where you cannot see the pavement, or bypass road barriers.
- If you become stranded in your car by moving water, stay with your vehicle and move to the hood or roof if water continues to rise.
- Stay away from power lines and electrical wires. Deadly electric current can travel through water.
- Report downed power lines in the City of Los Angeles to the Department of Water and Power (1-800-DIAL- DWP). If the downed wires threaten life, call 9-1-1.
WHAT IF YOU WITNESS STORM DAMAGE?
City of Los Angeles residents should call 3-1-1 or (213) 473- 3231, use an on-line form or the MyLA311 app to report potholes, downed street trees, damaged or inoperative street lights or traffic signals, clogged street drains and any storm-related property damage or issue requiring an inspection or action by City of Los Angeles officials.
WHAT IF YOU EXPERIENCE STORM DAMAGE?
If, despite your best efforts, you become a victim of storm or floodwater damage, please visit LAFD.ORG for helpful flood recovery tips.
WHAT IF YOU NEED SANDBAGS?
In an effort to assist Los Angeles residents with extreme storm needs, the Los Angeles Fire Department and Bureau of Street Services are making ready-to-fill sandbags available at locations citywide. To find the Neighborhood Fire Station or Bureau of Street Services location closest to you, contact the City’s 3-1-1 Ambassadors. They are pleased to direct you to the closest municipal source of sand and/or sandbags.
Finally, says LAFD, for updated weather information, “Please visit the National Weather Service website and listen to NOAA (All Hazards) Weather Radio or local radio and television stations for urgent weather information and emergency bulletins.”
We definitely need the rain…so let’s stay safe and enjoy it!